Bali is full of dazzling sites, glittering beaches, and the kindest people. But the thing that left the greatest impression on me was Bali's insane food scene.  I wasn't expecting to find diverse options, bold flavors, and a very full stomach. 

1. Mie Goreng and Nasi Goreng 

mushroom, pasta, chicken, noodle
Tara Shooshani

Mie goreng (noodles) and nasi goreng (fried rice) are staples in the Baninese diet. You can find them everywhere, from the vendors on the street to the five-star restaurants overlooking the ocean. Both are usually made with either veggies, chicken, or fish. My favorite mie and nasi goreng can be found at at the Legian Hotel; it's simple, but flavorful, and made with the freshest ingredients. 

2. Chicken Satay 

salad, chicken
Tara Shooshani
Another very common Balinese dish, the chicken satay generally comes with a thick, tangy peanut sauce that is to die for. Both Nook Restaurant (which sits on top of an expansive rice terrace) and Merah Putih (a fancy restaurant with elaborate architecture) had great satays. 

3. Açai and Pitaya Bowls

Tara Shooshani
Ah yes, my favorite item on this list is, of course, smoothie bowls. They are very popular in Bali. Most cafes/restaurants/hole-in-the-walls make its own unique açai bowls. They are tasty, refreshing, and photogenic AF. Nalu Bowls, Sisterfields, and Kim Soo are must go places for any smoothie bowl lover. 

4. Charcoal Burgers

While I've never encountered a charcoal bun in LA, I noticed that it's trendy in Bali. The bun tastes the same as a normal bun—but its black, eye-catching color is super exotic. Both Sisterfields and The Spicy Coconut, are home to these blackened buns. 

5. Fish Cooked in Banana Leaves

While I'm not usually a seafood person, the Balinese sure know how to wrap things in banana leaves and make fish taste like heaven. The dish I ate from Bambu Restaurant contained a slow cooked fish marinated in a complex, tomatoey sauce. Super delicate.

6. Vietnamese Food

salad, tacos, chicken, spring rolls
Tara Shooshani
Bali is responsible for my newfound love of Vietnamese food. At Bo and Bun I made my own rice paper rolls, devoured a salad, tried some green curry, and still had room for dessert (Vietnamese coffee on top of a scoop ice cream). 

7. Smoothies and Juices 

I'm pretty used to overpriced smoothies in the US, so when I went to Bali and saw giant, amazing, delicious, bright smoothies for $2, I was shocked. My favorite ones are infused with coconut water

8. French Toast

maple syrup, syrup, toast, french toast, bacon
Tara Shooshani
Yes, kind of random, but I'm pretty sure that the Balinese have French toast and bread pudding mixed up because this breakfast item tastes suspiciously like my favorite dessert. Crispy on the outside, super-soft on the inside—the best part is the grilled mini bananas on the side. Yum. Both the Legian Hotel and Kim Soo serve the best French toast I've ever had. 

9. Mexican Food

Yes, this was unexpected for me too, being 20 hours away from Mexico. But the totopos from Motel Mexicola and quesadillas from Kim Soo taste extremely authentic.  

10. Fruit

Bali has a plethora of fruit. Common fruit on the island includes tangerines, strawberries, bright pink dragon fruit, golden watermelons, and durian.

#Spoontip: If you're too nervous to try durian itself, track down down some durian gelato: all the great taste without the smell!

So if you're the type of traveler who plans an entire trip based on food, you should probably start making your Bali itinerary riiiight about now.